How much carbohydrates do we need?

High carb, low carb, no carb! There are some many options and opinions out there so we thought we give you some sound advice on how much you really need.

The amount of carbs to eat in a day depends on several variables including your:

1. Body size

2. Activity/intensity level

3. Fitness/weight loss goals

4. Genetics & metabolism

Sports performance goals and weight loss goals normally have slightly different nutrition and sports programs. There are a lot of overlaps in how to train for both of these goals, however the small differences is what will make someone on a weight loss program loose weight and someone on a sports performance program perform stronger!

For weight and fat loss we want to keep ourselves in fat burning mode for as long as possible, which means keeping our insulin in-check. Proteins, fats and fibre have minimal affect on spiking insulin which is why those on fat loss programs should lower their carb intake especially on days they are not exercising intensely. The starting point is anywhere from 15-50grams of carbohydrates for an average sized person of 60 kilos. This range is low so trial and error and remember these carbohydrates should still be from good complex carbs such as vegetables, fruits and whole grains. On high intense exercise days you may need to add extra carbohydrates, but to what extent varies from person to person. As a rough guide add 1gram of carbohydrate per kilogram of bodyweight for each one hour of intense exercise on that day. So now that 60 kilogram average athletic person who started on 50grams a day on non intense exercise days is now adding another 60 grams to make a total of 110grams of carbohydrates. In addition if my client is an endurance athlete or bodybuilder then I will increase their carbohydrates requirements even more, anywhere from 2-5 g/kg of bodyweight. Keep in mind that carbs are only part of the nutrition equation for weight loss, because you still have to get the calories right, which is very important.

Timing of eating carbs is very important too, a great time to eat relatively more carbohydrates is after an intense workout. Carbs are anabolic because they raise your blood sugar level, which in turn stimulates the storage hormone insulin. Insulin gets a bad reputation because it can increase fat storage, but it can also be your friend by helping your muscles suck in more protein. After a workout, eating carbs with protein in a roughly 2:1 ratio can help your body utilize the protein most effectively. Eating more carbs when you have a endurance race, or competition can also be helpful. “Carb loading”, or consuming large amounts of carbs to saturate your sugar storage tanks (muscles and liver) leading up to an athletic event can help you perform better.

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